Breaking Up: When It's Time To End It For Good...

“Say something, I’m giving up on you”…can you feel the desperation for something, anything in the lyrics of the song by A Great Big World? How torn that statement is — asking for something but knowing that there isn’t anything left to get? ”I’m sorry I couldn’t get through to you” …Even if you’re saying the exact same thing, you somehow can’t understand each other as you talk in circles and don’t see a way out of the whirlwind. “You’re the one that I love, but I’m saying goodbye”…Completely heart wrenching.

If you are at a point in your relationship where you know you have to end it because it’s unhealthy and you’re unhappy, you might have no choice but to break your own heart and end it. It’s been too long; you need to stop the bleeding.

I know how it feels because I have been there, too…

Very few people ever get to experience the deep, intoxicating, impassioned, fanatical, completely mind/body/spirit-enveloping obsession that feels more like an addiction than love. I guess I’m one of the lucky few who is simultaneously pretty much screwed for the rest of my life because I experienced that intensity within an unhealthy and extremely toxic relationship — not unlike a drug.

We were nasty to each other. Demeaning. We said hurtful things and argued too often. But we loved each other with such force and equal tenderness. And while it was wholly fulfilling, seeping through every pore on my skin, pulsing through my veins, filling each cell of my body, it was also damaging. When you are in it, or rather, when you are in the moment you realize just how toxic it is and you know that you have to get out of it, you can’t help but wonder: Was the experience worth it? Would I rather just not know it exists, not know about the potential for ecstatic love, and instead be quite content to pretty damn happy… with mediocrity?

Despite the pain, despite the possibility that you may forever be searching for something that you only get to experience once and you have already drew, used, and dumped that card, I say yes. Yes, it is worth it. But the question is: How — when you realize that, despite this profound experience of love, just how awful the day to day actually is — do you break it off?

The only cure to this addiction is removing yourself from the situation, detoxing, and coming to grips with the fact that you can never reach out, you have to force yourself not to cyber-stalk, ask around about him, or do a drive-by in hopes of catching a glimpse of him or seeing his car parked on the street. And when in your next relationship, you just have to accept with the fact that you might not feel that way again — you might not feel that crazy passion — and that’s okay. You might not need him or want to consume him every time you see him; you probably won’t want to literally swallow him up as your body grows numb from complete chemical bliss. But you will be healthy, and happy. You will be the priority, and you will have a balanced life and that’s better than this, right? Right…? Yes. That’s right.

Time to cut it off.

After I ended it, I wailed in a way that I didn’t know I had the capacity to sound. I collapsed on the carpet and sobbed for days. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t exercise because I was too weak, and I ended up coming down with a high fever and full-blown flu — I assume my body’s way of finally purging him from my pores. I was in physical pain. I wanted to call him, even just so we could fight. I felt purposeless and pathetic. I didn’t know what to do with myself except sleep, take baths, and cry on the floor with my body wrapped around my black labrador, Beignet.

Days went by, then weeks and I realized that I hadn’t thought about him for a few hours. Finally a month or so later, I was feeling happy again, hopeful, and looking forward to moving on in my life and finding a better bliss, a balanced bliss—one without pain at the end of each rainbow. And I did. The lessons I learned during that time of self-torment were somehow worth it, because I knew how to truly and purely love, I knew how to be good to someone, and I knew how to be good to myself. You don’t know how to really give or accept love until you have experienced pain.

Love is easy. Relationships take work. And, sometimes, they just aren’t working. Never will. No matter how deeply you love the guy—to the depths of your soul, with each breath you take, if you could drink him you would — he is like a drug. You crave him, but he’s killing you. You’re in a bad relationship. And that’s when it’s time to break up. But that’s what can be the most torturous because you are breaking your own heart. It feels like your heart is splitting in two, even though you’re the one pulling from the relationship.

Being in a bad relationship can lead to depression, a lifetime of insecurities, unhealthy behaviors and thoughts, and a temporary loss of self. Leaving might make you miss his smile, but if you’re really honest, you miss yours more. It’s time to walk away. Run, if you think it’s necessary. Change your number, have his emails forwarded elsewhere, block him on Facebook if you have to. Stop following his tweets. Don’t drive or walk by his house. Cut him out, cold turkey. Eventually your love will fade and you’ll stop thinking about him every minute. Then one day you’ll realize that you didn’t think about him for days. And soon he fades away.

It’s a little like exercising when you so don’t want to: one more day of exercising is one less day of being overweight, is one day closer to reaching your goal.

The same situation applies with separations: one less day of being together is one more day closer to being happy. Remember (very true cliché): when one door shuts, another door opens.

How do you know if you should break your own heart (& his) and finally end the relationship?

How do you know when you’re in a bad relationship?

  • You feel like you’re suffocating.
  • You feel more lonely when you’re with him than you do when you’re alone.
  • He is possessive of you in an unhealthy way.
  • He doesn’t celebrate your accomplishments, but would rather one-up you instead.
  • He puts you down when you’re with other people and makes you feel like an idiot.
  • You’re afraid that he will get mad at you when you talk to or hang out with your friends, so you feel like you have to lie.
  • He checks your phone because he is convinced that you are cheating — but you aren’t.
  • He is physically or emotionally abusive.
  • You don’t like who you are when you’re with him.
  • You can’t remember the last time you smiled.

Before going cold turkey:

But before you just cut it off (by the way, this ishow you will have to end it), think long and hard about this decision. Consider:

  • Is there anything that you can do differently?
  • Can you break the pattern?
  • Can you change the habits?
  • Can you make a midcourse correction?
  • Are you really broken? Or just bent?
  • Stop for a second and put yourself in his shoes.
  • Be empathetic. Try to understand where he is coming from.
  • Is there any way, any chance that you instigated the downward spiral?
  • Remove the emotions and think rationally.
  • Communicate in a non-confrontational, non-emotional tone that shows your commitment to figuring out how to stop and fix the problem.

Can’t get out of the spiral on your own?

Step out of your relationship and seek a third party opinion. Contact a therapist and explore couples counseling.

Nothing? It’s not working?

It’s time to be honest with yourself. Brutally. Come clean. Is this relationship serving you? Does it have the capacity to make you happy if it continues to move in the direction it’s going? Get real. Get raw. Get vulnerable. And if you have to, get out.

You deserve to be happy. And you will be if you fix the relationship at its root. If you can’t, then you need to move on and, eventually, you will find someone who you love and who loves you.


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